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MBA Programs in California

General and operations managers are on the list of top occupations in California, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The position is projected to see 72,690 new job openings between 2008 and 2018, making it one of the occupations with the most opportunities in the Golden State. Jobs for general and operations managers can be financially rewarding-- and an MBA can help you strike it big.

Table of contents:

  1. California Average GMAT Scores
  2. Striking It Big in California With an MBA Degree
  3. Best State For MBA Grads: California
  4. Great California Cities for MBA Graduates
  5. Business schools in the Golden State you might have missed
  6. California MBA programs

Average GMAT Scores of California MBA Applicants

California MBA applicants tend to out perform the national average on GMAT scores. As such, schools and colleges in California offering MBAs might be more selective in reviewing an applicant's GMAT score than in other states.

Average GMAT score for Men and Women test takers in 2012, 2012 Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) - GMAC Application Trends Survey, 2013.

Striking It Big in California With an MBA Degree

Big business is no stranger to California. The state is home to more than 50 Fortune 500 companies, including Apple, Chevron, Google, Wells Fargo, and more, and businesses from IT to health care to retail can benefit from trained, professional leadership. Nine of the state's Fortune 500 companies are located in San Francisco, which has a population of more than 800,000 people. Five are located in Los Angeles, with a population of nearly 9 million people. Graduates in California MBA programs might find employment opportunities in the corporate hub of Los Angeles or in San Francisco, a retail hub and the headquarters for Gap, Levi Strauss and more. Explore business schools in California and boost your earning potential today.

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Best State For MBA Grads: California

Overall Rank: # 4

Overall Ranking of California is based on average salary ranking of individual MBA professions. The salaries of individual MBA professions are ranked from highest to lowest across the nation and include Guam, Puerto Rico, Washington DC, and the Virgin Islands. As such, some states can be ranked worse than 50 for individual professions.

Individual MBA Profession Salary Ranking:

  • Ranked #4 as Best State for Finance MBA graduates
  • Ranked #7 as Best State for Human Resource MBA graduates
  • Ranked #7 as Best State for Logistical MBA graduates
  • Ranked #4 as Best State for Accounting MBA graduates
  • Ranked #9 as Best State for Entrepreneurship minded MBAs
  • Ranked #8 as Best State for Marketing MBA graduates

While our state rankings measure overall median salaries for a professions which hire MBAs, please remember that due to the Cost of Living Index of California, salaries could feel up to -22% lower than they initially appear.

These rankings are based on 2013 median annual salary data supplied from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salary data for professions which MBA graduates typically find employment was sorted by specialty and ranked.

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Great California Cities for MBA Graduates

Fremont MBA Programs and Business Schools

The high-profile bankruptcy of solar power company Solyndra put Fremont, Calif., in the news in 2011, but thanks to the city's thriving and diverse business ecosystem, the city remains an excellent location for enterprises of all sorts even after the loss of this major employer. Just adjacent to Silicon Valley, Fremont is one of the country's foremost centers of tech innovation. According to the city's Office of Economic Development, Fremont is home to more than 1,200 high tech, green tech and life science companies. Boston Scientific, a major medical device company, is one of Fremont's most prominent companies, employing nearly 2 percent of the total workforce in 2010, according to the city's annual financial report. Other major tech employers include AXT Incorporated, Lam Research, Seagate Magnetics, and Western Digital.

Fremont is one of the U.S. clean tech hubs, being home to companies such as Washington Hospital, Western Digital, and Oplink Communications. About 15 miles from San Jose International Airport and 30 miles from Oakland International Airport and the Port of Oakland, and with easy access to San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area, Fremont is perfectly positioned as a manufacturing and distribution center. Companies like RSP Manufacturing Corporation are taking advantage of Fremont's 42 million square feet of office, manufacturing and warehouse space.

Fresno MBA Programs and Business Schools

The phrase "California business" might conjure up images of the high-tech wizards of Silicon Valley and the movie-making machine of Hollywood, but the state is also one of the nation's richest in terms of agriculture. California's natural bounty creates a hotbed of opportunity in the city of Fresno. There are more than 59,000 workers in the Fresno area's agriculture sector, according to the California Economic Development Department. Among the city's largest employers is food processing/poultry company Foster Farms, Cargill Meat Solutions, Harris Ranch Beef Co., Sun-Maid Growers and Producers Dairy Foods. The city's agricultural producers also support a thriving manufacturing cluster, with major companies such as agricultural/industrial/construction equipment manufacturer Quinn Group, vertical turbine pump maker Floway, drop irrigation systems manufacturer Netafim and packaging equipment maker ADCO.

Fresno's abundant sunshine not only helps the area's crops flourish -- it is being harnessed by a growing number of clean energy companies. The Fresno Clean Energy Cluster includes 40 private sector companies, and its steering committee includes representatives from REC Solar, SunPower and Real Goods Solar, among other businesses. Security has also emerged as a business presence in Fresno. Video security manufacturer Pelco employs more than 2,000 people, according to the Fresno County Employment Department, while security services and alarm response companies Turner and Securitas together employ more than 600 people. Other major employers include AT&T and real estate brokerages Guarantee Real Estate and London Properties.

Irvine MBA Programs and Business Schools

Irvine's close-knit neighborhoods, award-winning schools and expanding business opportunities attracted nearly 70,000 new residents between 2000 and 2010, according to census figures. It's easy to see why so many newcomers chose to settle down there: This wealthy city just outside Los Angeles sets the standard on suburban living.

Money magazine consistently ranks Irvine among the best places to live -- it reached No. 4 in 2008. One reason for Irvine's top billing is its focus on education: The University of California, Irvine, is the city's largest employer and more than 64 percent of the adult population holds a bachelor's degree or higher. Irvine is also a very affluent community: the median home value there is $677,100 and the median household income is $90,939, according to 2010 census figures. The city's wealth likely stems from its diverse economy, which hinges on advanced industries including technology, medicine and education. MBA programs in Irvine offer professionals who want to excel in any of the area's top industries the skills that could help land a management job.

The University of California and the local unified school district create a number of opportunities for graduates of business schools in Irvine with an MBA in education management. Numbers from the city's 2011 financial report show a large portion of the Irvine's workforce is in education: University of California: Irvine employed 14,000 people and the Irvine Unified School District employed nearly 3,000. Whether you're interested in serving as a school administrator or teaching upper-level management courses to future professionals, an MBA could contribute to your career success. Post-secondary education administrators earned mean annual incomes of $98,950 in Irvine, while post-secondary business teachers earned mean annual wages of $90,570, according to data. Whatever choices you make considering your advanced business degree, an MBA could prove a favorable asset when it comes to advancing your career in this SoCal city.

Los Angeles, California MBA Programs and Business Schools

Why can earning an MBA in Los Angeles be helpful for boosting your career? There's much more to Los Angeles than the twinkling lights and often-spotted celebrities in Hollywood. The economy thrives on aeronautics, entertainment, energy, fashion, technology, and tourism. According to information from Forbes, one in every six residents of Los Angeles works in one of the city's creative industries. The city is a world leader in motion pictures, television production, video games, and recorded music. A number of Fortune 500 companies are also headquartered in Los Angeles, including aerospace contractor Northrop Grumman, crude oil producer Occidental Petroleum, engineering firm AECOM Technology and real estate services firm CBREG.

According to information from the California Employment Development Department, major employers in Los Angeles include the UCLA Medical Center, Century Plaza Towers and CBS Studios City. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also indicates that some of the fastest growing employment sectors there include education and health services, and information technology. Any of these businesses or sectors could be a guide when it comes to planning your MBA career.

Oakland MBA Programs and Business Schools

Long a hub for health care and manufacturing, Oakland has emerged as a 21st century business hot spot, being an important center for arts/digital media and green business. A National Endowment for the Arts report ranked Oakland No. 23 in the country for number of artists as a percent of the workforce. Digital media companies in Oakland include Internet radio innovator Pandora and video analytics firm Skytide. Businesses creating eco-friendly products accounted for many office space leases in 2010, according to the city's economic development group. Green businesses include solar energy companies Sungevity and First Solar, and Rumsey Engineering, a firm specializing in sustainable mechanical engineering.

While these organizations are increasingly important to Oakland's business ecosystem, one of the city's highest profile and largest employers has long been health care giant Kaiser Permanente, which employs more than 6,500 people, according to the city's 2009 financial report. Another stalwart industry in the city has been manufacturing. Grubb & Ellis ranked Oakland No. 7 in its 2008-2012 U.S. Industrial Market Strength Forecast. According to the city's official website, more than 5,000 acres between the city's airport and seaport are devoted to manufacturing. The port itself is the fifth largest in the U.S.

Sacramento, California MBA Programs and Business Schools

Though the mining boom is long gone in Sacramento, there are still golden opportunities to be found in this city of 466,000-plus residents. Kiplinger recently ranked Sacramento No. 8 on its list of top places to work and play, and it's easy to see why: income growth there over the past decade reached nearly 20 percent, housing prices remain affordable, and residents enjoy great outdoor recreation, a lively arts scene and fine dining.

According to fiscal information from the city's annual financial report, top employers in Sacramento include those in government, education, health care and tech industries. The State of California employed nearly 73,000 people in Sacramento in 2010, according to city reports. Other principal employers in Sacramento include Intel Corporation, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, University of California's Davis Health System, and a number of local school districts. Sacramento MBA programs could be a stepping stone into one of these top industries and provide you with the skills needed to excel.

San Francisco, California MBA Programs and Business Schools

San Francisco's economy is historically tied to the California gold rush, when thousands of fortune seekers flooded into the city. Today, you aren't likely to find any prospectors wandering the city's streets, but many of the top Bay Area businesses are among the most venerable and historically resonant companies in the U.S, including apparel company Levi Strauss & Co., chocolatier Ghirardelli and Wells Fargo Bank.

However, San Francisco is not a city mired in the past -- it also boasts cutting-edge technology companies and various other start-ups. There are more than 4,100 IT firms located in the Bay Area, accounting for the most patents of any U.S. metro area, according to the San Francisco Center for Economic Development. Health care companies, including Catholic Healthcare West, California Pacific Medical Center, John Muir Health, Kaiser Permanente, and McKesson are among the city's largest employers. Area Fortune 500 companies include oil behemoth Chevron, tech standouts Apple, Intel, Cisco and Google, retailer the Gap and utilities company Pacific Gas & Electric.

San Francisco could be one of the top U.S. markets for graduates who obtained a technology management MBA degree. According to the SFCED, about a fifth of the San Francisco workforce is already employed in the tech sector, and the California Employment Development Department projects 3,600 jobs will be added in the IT services, software and digital media spheres. Computer and information systems managers working in the greater San Francisco area earned mean annual wages of $156,350 in 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ( reports.

San Jose, California MBA Programs and Business Schools

San Jose is California's third largest city and home to many thriving business sectors. Among these sectors, technology is the most prominent. Known as the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose boasts more than 6,300 tech companies that together employ upwards of 256,000 people, according to the city's Office of Economic Development. These companies create everything from semiconductors and biomedical devices to computer software and innovative IT solutions, and include some of the biggest industry players -- Cisco Systems, IBM and eBay employ more than 21,000 people in the San Jose area.

However, San Jose is not entirely dominated by multinationals; it is also a hotbed for start-ups. The city's Office of Economic Development states it is No. 1 in the nation for venture capital investment, financing more than 500 companies. Beau-coup Wedding Favors, aerospace engineering firm Stellar Solutions and compost food container manufacturer World Centric were among the many fast-growing Silicon Valley companies to appear on Inc. magazine's 500/5000 list in 2011. Although it may seem tech dominates the business scene in the San Jose area, like other big cities, it is a hub for all kinds of businesses. In 2010, Big Four consulting and accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers signed a 15-year lease on a downtown space for about 1,200 workers.

Santa Clara MBA Programs and Business Schools

Santa Clara, Calif., has a claim to being the epicenter of Silicon Valley: It is home to the world headquarters of Intel, the maker of the world's first commercial silicon microprocessor chip. While Intel remains the city's largest private employer, it is only one of many high-profile tech companies now located in Santa Clara. Applied Materials and Agilent Technologies also have their world headquarters in Santa Clara, and together employed about 5,000 people as of 2010. The Santa Clara operations of Oracle, National Semiconductor and NVIDIA also employ more than 1,000 people each. Dell Computers opened a research and development center in the city in 2011, planning to ramp up quickly to transfer 1,500 jobs there.

Although the advanced tech industry is undoubtedly the backbone of Santa Clara's economy, the tremendous success of this sector supports diverse businesses -- 12,000 of them, according to the city's 2011-2013 economic development report . About 40 percent of the city is zoned for commercial, industrial and retail use, and Santa Clara has seen some substantial building projects recently, including a 215,000-square-foot office development and a 300,000-square-foot addition to an existing complex. Not surprisingly, real estate is a thriving industry in Santa Clara, as demonstrated by this construction, as well as the 2 million square-foot high-rise office of commercial real estate firm Equity Office Partners.

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Business schools in the Golden State Forbes didn't see:

Not every school has the public relations team needed to dominate the Forbes MBA rankings every year. As it would happen, there are more Golden State B-Schools than appear in the listings most MBA applicants follow. Here are a few schools we think you might have missed in your search for an MBA program.

The following school information is sourced from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, part of the Department of Education. All of the following schools offer master-level business degrees.

Alliant International University

American Jewish University

Antioch University-Los Angeles

Antioch University-Santa Barbara

Azusa Pacific University

Biola University

Brandman University

California Baptist University

California Institute of Integral Studies

California Lutheran University

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

California University of Management and Sciences

Chapman University

Claremont Graduate University

Claremont McKenna College

Concordia University-Irvine

Dominican University of California

Fielding Graduate University

Fresno Pacific University

Golden Gate University-San Francisco

Holy Names University

Hope International University

Humboldt State University

International Technological University

John F Kennedy University

MBA Programs in California

Note: This list also contains online schools that accept students from California.